Installing SSD’s In Older Macs

Installing a SSD (Solid State Drive) in an older Mac is a great way to extend its life. I have installed several SSD’s in MacBook Pro’s. If the person using the MBP does not need the latest macOS, a SSD upgrade is well worth the effort and expense. However, on a recent MBP SSD upgrade I ran into a problem.

SSD Install

The MBP in question was a 2011 13” model. It was still using the original spinning hard drive and had become very slow. I obtained a 1 TB Micron SSD from OWC for a great price. It was a clearance sale. I formatted the drive on my new iMac and installed it into the MBP. However, when I booted the MBP it kept giving some type of macOS error. I just did not get it until I had an epiphany. The SSD was not formatted correctly for the older MBP machine.

Here is what I mean. If you attach a new SSD to a Mac running macOS High Sierra or Mojave it will automatically format the SSD in APFS format. That is Apple’s new file format specifically designed for SSD media:

APFS format
APFS format

I did this without thinking when I formatted the SSD. The problem is the older MBP can only handle drives formatted in the old HFS+ format:

HFS+ Format
HFS+ Format

I probably worked on this for an hour or two before that fact dawned on me. So, I removed the SSD and formatted it as HFS+ and all was well. The MBP recognized the drive with no problems.

Keep something in mind here. If you use the Disk Utility App to format the drive, you may only be offered the APFS format:

Format List
Format List

That is because you cannot access the HFS+ format by selecting the Volume. You have to select the Physical drive:

Physical Drive
Physical Drive

Now you can format the drive anyway you wish. Yes, the APFS format is really designed for SSD’s, but if the drive will not work in an older Mac that does not do you much good. Just format it HFS+, install it and move on.

Conclusion

The price of SSD’s has come way down over the past year or so. They have become affordable which is a plus for Mac users. Let’s face it, Macs just seem to never die, they go on forever. If you can upgrade one to a SSD, you are extending its life.